Hospital patients needing an intravenous injection in Saskatchewan will soon be hooked up to a new piece of technology.

On Thursday, the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region unveiled new smart IV pumps. Mark Anderson, vice president of business development with 3sHealth, said the pumps were first introduced on intensive care units at Regina's Pasqua Hospital on Feb. 16 and Regina General Hospital on Feb. 22.

"We're at the pilot stage, which has gone extremely well in RQHR," Anderson said. "They're doing their full rollout March 8th. We then have a sequenced plan to rollout each health region between now and the end of this year."

The change to this new technology has been in the works for months. Now, the plan is to implement about 3,000 Hospira Plum 360 IV pumps into hospitals and health care facilities across the province by the end of 2016, replacing the current IV systems.

Regina mother fights for better system

The new smart pumps ensure patients don't receive too much or too little medication. It's a potentially life-threatening problem Allison Wells knows too well.

On May 24, 2014, Wells's three-year-old son Logan nearly died in hospital. Logan has a rare kidney disease and while being prepared for a gastroscopy in Saskatoon, he was connected to an IV. However, the IV bag had more than five times the proper concentration of potassium chloride.

Wells, who is a pharmacist, said her son started screaming and writhing in pain. She looked at the bag and knowing it was too concentrated, she stopped the IV. Wells said the concentration used would have stopped her son's heart within minutes or less.

"I think about that every single day and I think we were lucky in many ways," Wells said. "I certainly understood what was going on with seconds to spare and had the knowledge on how to turn it off. Certainly it's why these smart pumps are so important to me."

Following the life-altering incident, Wells devoted countless personal and professional hours to pushing for safer health care. 

Safety behind new purchase of new technology

Saskatchewan smart IV pumps

3,000 Hospira Plum 360 IV pumps will be put into hospitals and health care facilities across the province by the end of 2016. (CBC)

Lori Garchinski, executive director of critical care for the RQHR, said the new smart pumps are about more than just equipping nurses and doctors with new technology.

"I would hope it provides a level of comfort to those patients and families," Garchinski said. "We have taken the last year and spent the time and energy because we believe this just isn't about new I-V pumps, this is really about patient safety."

The smart IV pumps are also programmed with the provincial drug library to ensure every hospital has the same standards. For example, each drug administered by health care providers, such as morphine, will have the exact same dosing limits at all facilities. Saskatchewan is among the first province to implement such a standardized system.

No up front cost for new pumps

Mark Anderson 3sHealth

Mark Anderson is vice president of business development with 3sHealth. (CBC)

Saskatchewan will become the first location in Canada to implement smart IV pumps province-wide.

The price tag for 3,000 smart IV pumps is approximately $8.8 million. However, Mark Anderson said the province will not have to pay any money up front and it will save money in the long-run.

"For many years, the products that are provided through these pumps - nutrition products, IV fluids, medication ... those are purchased every single day in our hospitals (and) have been for years and years. So we spend just about $10 million a year on those products we call consumables."

Through the new contract, according to Anderson, the province will buy consumables from the same vendor as the pumps. Anderson said that means the price of the pumps will be worked into the deal, eliminating an up-front cost of $8.8 million.

As well, he said the consumables are now being purchased at a lower cost than before.